Let’s talk about profit. The Santa Barbara Sheriff’s
Dept. recently raided the local medical marijuana dispensary
Helping Hands Wellness Center to confiscate a
hundred pounds of pot, over a thousand cannabis plants
and twenty grand in cash. The narcotics detectives seized
the weed products because, as Public Information Officer
Drew Sugars said, the Compassionate Use Act passed by
California voters in 1996 is only there “to help sick people”
and that “nowhere does it say that people can make a profit
from dealing marijuana.” There are two established points
in this statement by our Sheriff’s department: first, that
cannabis is medicine under state law, and second, that
because cannabis is medicine, you may not profit from selling
Of all the big businesses, which are the most profitable?
In 2009, after network equipment and Internet retail,
pharmaceuticals were the most profitable industry with a
19.3 percent return on revenue. I get the fact that marijuana
currently falls under special laws, but otherwise there is
very little sense in Sugars’ words. Marijuana is medicine,
but since when can businesses not profit from selling medicine?
A land of free enterprise rewards the people who act
productively. On the day of the raid, the workers of Helping
Hands Wellness Center created more value through productive
action than did the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s narcotics
detectives, but their labor became loot for the local “Justice”
The profitability of a business enterprise is influenced by
the ability of the customer to access an acceptable alternative
to the product being sold. Networking equipment is
new technology that is widely needed for computing — no
real substitute is available. Internet retail itself is a substitute
to “brick-and-mortar” retail stores, so naturally it thrives. But
wait, are there substitutes for prescription drugs?
Of the 10 most profitable prescription drugs, four are made
to treat diseases that may also be effectively treated with the
drug marijuana. These top four drugs treat depression, psychosis,
asthma and high blood pressure, and collectively earn
$18.4 billion in yearly sales. Oh, so that’s where all that “antidrug”
campaign money comes from!
The Partnership for a Drug-Free America began in 1986
to educate youth on the harm of ‘illegal’ drugs. Their funding
is generally kept secret, but a 1991 tax return for the
Partnership reveals the names of GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson
& Johnson, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Hoffman-La Roche and
Merck — the usual suspects of “Big Pharma.” In the three
years from 1988 to 1991, pharmaceutical companies and their
beneficiaries supplied at least 54 percent of the Partnership’s
funding. Unlisted are other donations from big tobacco and
alcohol corporations like Philip Morris, Anheuser-Busch,
Fortune Brands and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. You
guys want me off “drugs?” Yeah, right — fuck off, pigs.
It’s déjà vu all over again: prohibition edition. When the
government bans a certain activity and enforces it with violence,
those involved with the activity must work in a violent
environment, and must become more violent to survive. If we
lift the state’s violence, the market violence will disappear as
well — I guarantee it. It’s already happened once in the last
American century.
In 1917, those square sober bastards came up to Congress
with something called the 18th amendment and by 1920, it
was law. It was the lamest legislation in U.S. history, banning
alcohol consumption for all Americans. Most of America,
stunned and wondering, “How did they get up so early?”
simply took their drinking underground to an illicit “speakeasy.”
These shenanigans continued until the St. Valentine’s
Day massacre, when in 1929 seven people were murdered
in a battle between an Irish gang led by Bugs Moran and an
Italian gang led by Al Capone. At that point, the American
people realized that their hopeless fantasies of sobriety were
unnatural and dangerous, and that by shoving a legitimate
industry underground, they had spawned a violent criminal
Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected on March 4, 1933.
Eleven days later, he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act, in effect
legalizing light beer. Immediately, alcohol prices fell, legitimate
producers of alcohol began hiring, residents of cities no
longer lived under gunfire and “law and order” returned. Beer
tax revenue flowed in, public school budgets were balanced
and people were happier. The repeal of prohibition is one of
the reasons that most of the American people truly appreciated
his presidency.
Ours is a land of free people who enjoy pleasure. The more
we try and twist ourselves into sober robots being moral for
the sake of morality, the more we will support an underground
criminal society while reaping zero public benefit. We have
established that cannabis is medicine. If anyone is unfamiliar
with the concept of supporting oneself by performing valued
services or distributing useful goods (commonly known as
“enterprise” for “profit”), I guess I have only one thing to say:
Welcome to America.
Daily Nexus Drug Columnist Kevin McCarty has the antidote
to drug crime — free markets and a fat bowl.